History Through the Lens of Video Games: A Study of Accuracy, Authenticity, Historiography, and Change Over Time

Author: Paul Martin
Major: History, Religious Studies
Approved: Spring 2018
Status: Completed

I want to look at a number of historical video games and analyze how they inform and educate the player about the time period though narrative, characters, world, gameplay mechanics, and other aspects. Besides this, I can look at how games have evolved over time with technology and how this has helped better enhance their ability to educate about history. Another aspect could entail historiography and looking at when the games came out and how the historical time periods in the games were viewed at that time or what some common stereotypes or perceptions were of the time periods at the time. I want to pick a diverse array of games that focus on different time periods, came out in different years, and even have different genres of gameplay.

When I come away from this project I hope to have learned a lot more about how and why these games were made. I also want to know how the perspectives of the people making the games factor into the broader historiography of the time in which each game came out. Were the stereotypes or ideas about the time period in question shared by most people in society at the time of the games release? How did the technology of the time affect the portrayal of the time period in question? What about the genre of the game and the different gameplay elements that entailed? I want to answer these questions as fully as I possibly can and end up with much more knowledge and greater understanding of historiography in the very recent and brief time in which video games have been around.